D.A.: Rick Pitino's Legacy Is Lie, Lie And Lie Some More

The Hall of Famer's career will only be remembered for being shrouded in deception and deceit, instead of wins and championships

Damon Amendolara
February 20, 2018 - 2:21 pm
NCAA Basketball: William & Mary at Louisville

USA Today Images

He won, and won a lot. He should be remembered as one of the most successful coaches in college basketball. A fiery, mouthy, Energizer battery of a man, pushing, prodding, and dragging his programs to the mountaintop. 

Except that can't be how he's remembered, because Rick Pitino doused his reputation in lighter fluid and set the match. The NCAA's powerful announcement that Louisville's '13 national championship would be vacated put the final nail in the coffin. Pitino's grandest moment with the Cardinals is nullified, voided, rendered a final humiliation for the ages. The only basketball national championship in modern history that got taken away. His legacy defined as the first Hall of Fame domino to fall from the FBI probe into massive payments to recruits via sneaker companies. 

Slick Rick may have escaped some of the damage of this historic decision if only he had not torched his integrity so many times before. Seven years ago Pitino puffed out his chest and wagged his finger to shame the ACC for raiding the Big East. Of course, when it was Louisville's time to jump, he leapt with both feet. Last year as the NCAA cited the hooker-dorm room violations from his tenure, Pitino had the gall to say he had "lost faith in the NCAA." (The feeling is likely reciprocal.) He once had an extra-marital affair which led to him lying (trend) and attempting to pay for an abortion. 

And the cream of the crop, the most incredible attempt at plausible deniability ever: "An educated person can’t think you’re gonna get a recruit with a stripper coming in." Yes, Rick. How could anyone assume a group of teenage boys in high school would ever be interested in naked women, for free, providing sexual acts in a dorm room? Pitino outdid himself by denying millions of years of adolescent biology. Teenage boys will do anything for naked women. That includes choosing your school to play basketball at. 

We don't even need to bring up his disastrous tenure in Boston, but for good measure it should be noted upon resigning "he said he would never have taken the job if he’d known how the lottery would turn out." That being the ping pong balls not falling the Celtics way to draft Tim Duncan, and instead Pitino selecting Chauncey Billups and Ron Mercer. So Pitino was only accepting a 10-year, $50M contract with the assumption he was drafting one of the top 10 players of all-time. Otherwise, he couldn't be held responsible. (Ignore the fact he passed on Tracy McGrady twice with his first two picks.) 

The facts are there, in plain sight for everyone to see. Pitino has lied at every turn of his career, becoming a punchline of dishonesty with the regularity of Selection Sunday or Bill Raftery yelling, "Onions! Double order!" His final one was a doozie, helping funnel $100,000 from adidas to the family of recruit Brian Bowen, then insisting he knew nothing about it. Too bad the evidence proved otherwise. 

It's not that Louisville or Slick Rick were the only dirty ones in the nation (although, they certainly seemed to set the bar). It's that Pitino attempted to create a different reality with every scandal. At some point you can't outrun the truth. The lies, that whole steaming pile of them for decades, finally suffocated the slimiest man in college hoops. 

Damon Amendolara, known by his fans as D.A., hosts “The D.A. Show,” from 9:00AM-12:00PM, ET, across the country on the nation’s largest 24/7 major-market radio network. “The D.A. Show” is known for its unique perspective on sports, tongue-in-cheek sense of humor, colorful listener interaction, and candid interviews with athletes and coaches. Amendolara also appears regularly on NFL Network as part of the “NFL Top 10” documentary film series, CBS television and SNY TV. He is a Syracuse University grad and native of Warwick, N.Y.